We here at Ausmed believe that metrics have been given a bad wrap: it’s not all long division and incredibly complex spreadsheets (though to those who see a spreadsheet and get excited, we say: power to you). The way we see it, metrics are a great way to keep on top of your learning and make sure you’re getting the most out of your dedicated learning activities.
But how can you use success metrics in your day-to-day learning? And what effect do they actually have? In this article, we’ll demystify basic metrics and give you some easy pointers that will help you to implement success measurements – and hopefully build them into something tailored for you and your learning goals.
How do metrics enhance your learning?
Completing learning without measuring success is like hitting a golf ball into a dark room and hoping it landed in the hole. Metrics not only show you whether your learning habits are working for you, but they also save you lots of time in the long run.
In short, metrics give your learning more purpose and help steer you toward effectiveness and efficiency. Additionally, metrics help you stay away from learning activities or habits that don’t work for you and may actually be wasting your time.
How can you integrate metrics into your learning?
Don’t worry! You don’t need an advanced degree in computer science to implement success measurement in your day-to-day life. In fact, it can be as simple or as complex as you want or need it to be. The only parameters are the kinds of success you’re tracking, and two of the most obvious categories are qualitative success and quantitative success.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines quantitative data as:
related to information that can be shown in numbers and amounts. (SOURCE)
Quantitative data is probably what you think of first when you think of metrics: numbers and amounts that infer positive or negative outcomes in a relatively binary way, such as >50% is a pass while <50% is a fail.
Quantitative data gives you easily accessible insights into the baseline effectiveness of your learning activities. It’s a great way to keep track of progress and growth in certain areas, as well as information retention over a long period. However, it only shows half the story: quantitative data needs to be met with qualitative data when it comes to learning, because – even if you’re getting good marks – it’s important to be genuinely enjoying the learning as well.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines qualitative data as:
relating to the quality of an experience or situation rather than to facts that can be measured. (SOURCE)
In the context of learning, qualitative measurements may be taken by asking yourself questions such as: Did I enjoy this piece of learning? Would I recommend this educator to a colleague? Why or why not?
This gives you insight into your emotional and mental experience of the learning activity as opposed to the strictly numeric measurements of success (such as how long the activity took or the score you received on the final quiz).
What should you be measuring?
This is entirely up to you and should be dependent upon your goals, as well as the types of learning you’re partaking in. For example, if you’re completing mandatory training, satisfaction and enjoyment probably aren’t the most important metrics because you don’t have a choice in whether you complete them or not. However, if you’re expanding your skill set in order to progress into a more specialised area, satisfaction, effectiveness and retention are all incredibly important.
Completion rates are the most basic metric you can employ, but it’s important to keep an eye on the basics – especially in the hectic world of healthcare education. So, the completion of learning activities is one way to track completions, but there are many more:
Completion of learning goals
Completion of topic streams (ie. collections of activities focused on a single topic)
Completion of activities relating to professional progression (as opposed to just competency gaps and mandatory training)
Retention requires more effort to track than completion rates, however it is equally as important. To accurately measure retention, it’s a good idea to complete a quiz immediately following the completion of an activity or topic: that way, you have a base score to compare against when you complete the same quiz a few months later.
The score you receive when measuring your information retention should directly influence the type of learning you complete. Read more about how you can increase information retention using these articles on The Handover:
Measuring the level of satisfaction you have when completing a learning activity could seem silly or mundane. It’s actually really important! If you’re not enjoying your learning, you’re less likely to retain information, less likely to learn in new ways (such as collaboratively), and less likely to challenge yourself with increasingly difficult pieces of education that could take your practice and career to the next level.
You can measure this quantitatively – ‘from a scale of 1 to 10, how much did I enjoy this learning activity?’ – or qualitatively – ‘describe how this learning activity made you feel about your practice and your future in this area'.
Despite the fact that utilising metrics can help you better understand your learning habits, measurement won’t necessarily improve or fix any issues you’re having with your learning habits.
To optimise your learning even further, read through Ausmed’s Learning Theories. There are heaps of simple, relevant and accessible changes you can make that will make your learning more effective for you. Have a browse, or subscribe to The Handover newsletter – it’ll give you a rundown of each week when it arrives in your inbox every Saturday morning.